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ACCOUNTING FOR MEGA-EVENTS
Forecast and Actual Impacts of the 2002 Football World Cup Finals on the
Host Countries Japan/Korea
John D. Horne
University of Edinburgh, UK
Wolfram Manzenreiter
University of Vienna, Austria
Abstract The 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan was the first football World Cup Finals ever to
take place in Asia and be co-hosted by two countries. Drawing on data provided by the national and
local organizing committees, football’s world governing institution, local and international media
accounts and first-hand observations made before, during and after the event, the paper discusses the
contrast between discourses that forecast and described the actual impacts of the 2002 World Cup on
its host societies. In particular three aspects are discussed: the specific regional political economy of
the 2002 World Cup; the role of sports mega-events in identity construction and promotion; and
how such events are both constituted by and constitutive of globalization. While a largely sceptical
view of the economic impact informs our paper, our conclusion explains the gap between forecast and
actual impacts as indicative of the power struggle for determining the meaning of mega-events
between different agents.
Key words • Football • globalization • identity construction • Japan • Korea • mega-events
Sporting mega-events, particularly the Olympic Games, acquired central status
for city and national government development agendas after the 1984 Los
Angeles Games showed for the first time that such mega-events could produce an
economic surplus (Andranovich et al., 2001: 124). More generally, as many
researchers have noted, investments into sport facilities and sport events have
captured a leading position in the consumption-based economic development
politics of many late capitalist societies over the past two decades (Baade, 1996;
Nunn and Rosentraub, 1995; Schimmel, 2001). Yet virtually all case studies of
the economic impact of either sport facilities or sport events have indicated that
they are not the growth engines they purport to be (Miller, 2002; Rosentraub,
1997). Zimbalist (2001: xvii–xviii) notes that ‘top-level professional sports teams
have an immense cultural impact on their communities but very little, if any,
positive economic impact’. We will show that the same applies to hosting sports
mega-events. Since most research on mega-events has been based on European,
North American and Australian case studies, the 2002 World Cup in Japan
and Korea,1 the first ever to take place in Asia and be co-hosted by two countries,
INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT 39/2(2004) 187–203 187
© Copyright ISSA and SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks, CA, New Delhi)
www.sagepublications.com
10.1177/10126902040043462
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presented a unique opportunity to carry out equivalent work into the impact of a
sporting event in two Far East Asian societies.
The Football World Cup Finals as a Mega-Event
The broader economic, social and political background to the staging of the 2002
World Cup has already been the subject of research (see Horne and Manzenreiter,
2002: passim). The collection edited by Perryman (2002) offers probably the
most comprehensive account of the English response to the 2002 World Cup
finals (see also Moran, 2002). It is not our intention here to elaborate on the economic
impact of the 2002 World Cup in detail, particularly because a thorough
account of the mega-event exceeds the purely financial level by far. What we
have to offer then are some theory-grounded reflections on the contrast between
forecast and actual impacts on various realms of the public in both host societies,
including economy, politics, and culture, and on the nature of this gap. Our analysis
is based on data provided by the national organizing committees (Japan World
Cup Organizing Committee or JAWOC and Korean World Cup Organizing
Committee or KOWOC), the regional football associations (Japan Football
Association, JFA, and Korean Football Association, KFA), and football’s world
governing institution (Federation Internationale de Football Association, FIFA).
The collection of local and international media accounts, academic studies, and
interviews with members of national football associations, local organizers,
voluntary workers and football fans, was conducted during five periods of fieldwork
in Japan and Korea before, during and after the World Cup.
The peripheral position of the host nations of 2002 in the world system (of
football) suggests a need to emphasize power relationships and agencies in the
analysis of any actual and anticipated impacts of the World Cup. A promising
approach is provided by Maurice Roche’s inquiry into the mega-event phenomenon.
The sociologist defined mega-events as ‘large scale cultural events of
mass popular appeal and international importance which are typically stagemanaged
by a combination of national governmental and international nongovernmental
actors’ (Roche, 2000: 1). Even though the largest sport organizations
FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are the most outspoken
proponents of the ‘apolitical nature of sport’ in public, they do in fact
exercise considerable pressure on political actors in the host countries (Sugden
and Tomlinson, 1998, 2003). While the public display of government commitment
is a prerequisite for a successful bid, governmental involvement is essential
not least because of the number of guarantees required that are too costly for
private business, e.g. security and large-scale infrastructure investment. Despite
all the financial risks, governments are willing to take their chances because such
spectacular peak-time events attract national and international media recognition
for the hosting cities. Due to the varying interests of local organizers, national
governments, international sport organizations and multinational event sponsorship,
mega-events must be approached as multidimensional and multi-purpose
occurrences.
Roche’s study discussed world-class events, world exhibitions and the
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Olympic Games in terms of three sets of simultaneously exhibited characteristics,
i.e. modern/non-modern, national/non-national and local/non-local. The multidimensional
approach allowed him to demonstrate neatly how elites utilize megaevents
to promote dominant ideologies, to mark progress and progressiveness and
to establish meaningful continuities with the past. In contrast, publics employ
mega-events for their specific needs, including the exploration of others’ identities
and the celebration of new identities or old collective identities. Previous
research on the usage of the World Cup for particular purposes has considered the
event itself as a metaphor of multiple meanings benchmarking the sociocultural
process of identity construction or the legitimization of central state involvement
in staging the World Cup Finals (Dauncey and Hare, 2000). As we will show,
employing such a framework for the 2002 World Cup Finals would reveal a
similar set of metaphorical usages, in spite of totally different circumstances. Our
own analysis basically complies with Roche’s multi-layered framework.
Reconfiguring the 2002 World Cup as a mega-event, we first outline selected
aspects of its specific regional political economy. Second, we consider the role of
mega-events for identity construction processes in late modern societies. Third,
we examine how mega-events are simultaneously constituted by and constitutive
of globalization. While a largely sceptical view of the economic impact informs
our paper, it will be suggested that football and sports mega-events in general can
present novel social contexts within which to produce, display and explore the
late modern identity.
The Regional Political Economy of the 2002 World Cup
Awarding the finals to Asian nations for the first time in history, FIFA laid proof
to its claim to bring football to the people of the world. The decision, however,
had a downgrading impact on the economies of the game. In Europe, football’s
most developed market, broadcasters found it comparatively difficult to sell
advertisement slots for the matches that were transmitted midday because of the
time difference. In Asia, where football is in keen competition with other mass
sports but hardly vying for the first rank, problems arose primarily because of the
co-hosting decision. This decision, that forced FIFA to change its own regulations,
provoked the formation of a fragile alliance between the two East Asian
states and their people whose relationship is still deeply tainted by memories of
the Japanese annexation of the Korean peninsula in 1910 and the colonial oppression
during greater part of the first half of the 20th century (McCormack, 2002b).
While the initial Japanese bid contained the highest number of venue cities ever
and an unprecedented assurance of gearing up for the World Cup, the co-hosting
arrangement dashed all hopes of significant financial returns for either of the
hosts. Total costs surged immediately due to the requirements of staging virtually
two simultaneous World Cup finals competitions, yet income opportunities and
chances to promote a particular and undistorted image of the World Cup hosting
nation became severely limited. According to slightly belated reactions published
by the Asahi Shinbun, a leading Japanese newspaper and later one of the ‘Official
Suppliers of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan’, Japan would stand to lose
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as much as 50 billion yen due to the roughly 50 percent decline in estimated
income (AS 2 October 1996).2
Throughout the 1990s, football in Japan was utilized as a prime mover for
regional development. The launch of Japan’s first fully professional football
league (the J League) in 1993 was inextricably linked with economic restructuring
policies and the fostering of local identities as a counter-weapon against
urban concentration and rural migration (Horne and Bleakley, 2002; Ubukata,
1994). Inside Japan, the World Cup bid was proposed in identical terms, and
JAWOC as well as the local authorities of the host cities emphasized regional
economic regeneration and sports infrastructure development as two out of five
of their major goals (Maeda, 2001). Football stadia, in general, were built, rebuilt
and run at the expense of regional authorities with the notable exception of the
private–public initiative in charge of building and managing the Sapporo Dome.
A full account of hosting the half World Cup must include the US$ 4.6 billion
investment Japan spent on ten state-of-the-art stadia, as well as the huge costs of
maintaining the prestigious yet mainly useless ‘white elephants’ with capacities
exceeding average J League spectator demand by more than 100 percent. Due to
the close personal linkages between organizing committees and regional governments,
which dispatched its employees to staff the local JAWOC branches at the
venue cities, resistance to spending taxpayers’ money in the production of the
World Cup was close to nil. Thanks to the taxpayers, as well as some corporate
sponsors, JAWOC was able to declare proudly that hosting the finals ended in an
economic surplus (NKS 9 Sept. 2002). Yet, both local and central government
debt as a result of financing public works projects has been a persistent problem
(NW 27 May 2002: 6).
What happened in Japan was by and large a residue of traditional, infrastructure-
led, development policies. Within the country’s entrenched pork-barrel
politics, emphasizing wasteful and often environmentally damaging public
works, a powerful parliamentary lobby known as the ‘construction tribe’ largely
dictates the public works spending spree. McCormack (2002a) refers to this as
Japan’s doken kokka, or ‘construction state’, which can best be understood as an
equivalent to the ‘military-industrial complex’ term first applied to the USA in
the 1950s. It focuses attention on the construction industry and public works as
Japan’s major industry and the close links between the construction industry, the
bureaucracy and government. Despite recent cutbacks by the Koizumi administration,
Japan’s spending on public works still tops 5 percent of GDP, which is at
least double what one finds in other OECD countries. While football stadium
construction might not always correspond with popular demand, it certainly did
respond to parliamentary demand. The construction period stretched over six
years, during which Japan was mired in a prolonged recession. Arguably, the
recession would have been even deeper in those areas that received hundreds of
millions of yen for stadium investment.
Promoters and profiteers of boosterism and growth machine ideology include
virtually all of Japan’s infamous zenekon, or ‘general contractors’. These include
Kajima Corporation, general contractor for the four World Cup arenas Saitama
Stadium 2002, Miyagi Stadium, ‘Big Swan’ Niigata Stadium and Shizuoka
Stadium ‘Ecopa’, and other contractors such as Takenaka, Taisei and the Sato
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Group who were chiefly involved in World Cup stadia production. Their
representatives are central actors in political parties, lobbying groups and nongovernmental
organizations. One prominent example is the industrialist Tsutsumi
Yoshiaki, one of the richest men in Japan and board member of many influential
sports committees. Under his presidency, the Japan National Olympic Committee
was turned into a professionally run sport agency, and it was probably his presidency
of the Japan Ski Association that drew the Morioka World Cup (1994) and
the Nagano Winter Olympics to Japan (Seki, 1997: 374–95). While the Nagano
Olympics were reported to have generated a surplus income of JPY 2.5 billion,
the profits largely bypassed national taxpayers. The local population were left
standing in the rain with the hardly used bob sled, ‘Nagano Spiral’ and the giant
speed-skating venue ‘M-Wave’, another beautiful, but heavily loss-making, sport
arena built by the Kajima Corporation.
Since local governments had promised their electorate for years the soon-tocome
benefits for the huge investments into stadia, communication, transport and
other related facility infrastructure, most Japanese were all too willing to believe
in the economic multiplier of the mega-event. This image of the World Cup was
prominent in political rhetoric on both sides of the Japan Sea. Public opinion polls
conducted in January 2002 revealed over 80 percent of Koreans and 60 percent
of Japanese believed that the World Cup would provide a significant boost to
their economies (Far Eastern Economic Review 7 March 2002). Such confidence
was undoubtedly also fuelled by research carried out by think tanks in both
countries. Forecasts on the economic impact of the World Cup, albeit in progress
since the decision to bid for the event, began to abound in the media just over a
year before the kick-off.
In March 2001, the Korean Ministry of Finance and Economy promised to
develop a multi-faceted strategy to maximize the economic impact of the World
Cup. The state-run Korean Development Institute predicted the creation of
350,000 jobs and additional industrial output of USD 8.82 billion, with a 22
percent share going to the construction sector (KT 4 June 2001). In Japan, a
number of highly optimistic forecasts circulated through the national and international
media during the first months of 2002. Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute
estimated an economic impact of 370 billion yen pushing up GDP by 0.3
percentage point (NKS 2 April 2002). The NEC Research Institute pegged the
total economic benefit of the core event at some 141.7 billion yen, equal to 0.1
percent of GDP (Amagai, 2002: 1). The most impressive figures, forecasting an
impact of up to JPY 3.6 trillion (NKS 12 December 2001), were provided by the
Institute of Social Engineering and Dentsu Institute of Human Studies, the
research unit of the advertising agency that did so much to promote world football.
However, with the kick-off approaching, forecasts got gloomier. According
to the private Samsung Economic Research Institute in 2001, the World Cup
would not generate the economic benefits that the Seoul Olympics did in 1988,
unless there was a dramatic recovery in the global economy (KT 5 October 2001).
Even before Japan was eliminated in the second round, economists now emphasized
that the larger part of World Cup related spending had already occurred
during the construction period. On the day before kick-off (29 May) Dentsu itself
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declared that the World Cup effect would be almost neutral because of lukewarm
interest inside Japan and reduced government spending after the event. Irrespective
of this, even the most optimistic forecasts were only indicating a rather
insignificant contribution to a US$ 4.2 trillion economy.
A number of economic studies indicated that even the reduced estimation
was likely to be optimistic. The Japan Research Institute also doubted whether the
World Cup added any significant upward momentum to domestic consumption.
According to the Electric Big-Stores Association NEBA, sales of appliances
other than television sets mostly dropped. The Cabinet Office’s ‘economic
watchers’ survey of close-to-the-street workers fell for a second straight month in
June and remained below the ‘boom or bust’ level for the 23rd month in a row.
Disappointed faces abounded among retailers and even more in the hotel and
restaurant sector. While home delivery service encountered some of its busiest
days ever, damage was inflicted upon bars, family chain restaurants and others
when their customers stayed at home watching the TV broadcast games (NW 8
July 2002). The ‘replacement spending’ effect obviously did not only apply to
government expenditure but domestic consumption and tourism as well.
For Korea, the economist Chang Se-Moon (2002) reviewed the growth rates
of all World Cup finals host countries since 1954 for the pre-World Cup and the
post-World Cup years.3 Of the 12 occasions, the post-World Cup year growth rate
was higher than the pre-World Cup year growth rate eight times and lower four
times. The average growth rate for post-World Cup years was 3.083 per cent,
while the average growth rate for pre-World Cup years was 2.233 per cent, with
the difference being 0.85 per cent favouring post-World Cup years. While these
figures argue in favour of the host country effect hypothesis, they do not separate
the World Cup effect from the usual cyclical experience. Thus sports economists
should not be surprised by the contrasting outcomes for the two host countries.
According to OECD statistics, Japan’s post World Cup growth (0.3%) was lower
than in 2001 (0.4), while Korea’s GDP rose from 3.1 percent in 2001 to 6.3
percent in 2002. The Bank of Japan (2003: 1–2) reported in July 2003 that
Korea’s economy expanded during and immediately after the World Cup, yet
domestic demand in South Korea cooled off after 2002, partly due to the SARS
epidemic, affecting both exports and industrial production in Japan.
Szymanski (2002) has observed through comparison with long-time averages,
the cyclical norms and equivalent figures for similar economies at the same stage
of the business cycle suggest there is no statistically significant positive macroeconomic
impact on GDP for World Cup hosts. The sports economist in fact
concludes that countries should stop inventing economic benefits from sporting
events, and simply treat them as expenses, or investments, in national promotion.
As our next two sections will show, the World Cup has also been utilized in this
regard, as an opportunity to construct or promote identities, not only top–down
from the state but also bottom–up from publics.
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Branding the Nation, Consumer Nationalism and Fashion
Nationalism: Mega-Events as an Opportunity for National
Promotion
When the Sumitomo Life Research Institute took a closer look at Japan’s past
experiences of hosting large-scale cultural events, results were disillusioning. Of
10 events, including the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, the Nagano Olympics in 1998
and the Osaka World Expo in 1970, only the last one showed any significant
impact on consumer spending (Yamamoto, 2002: 3). The Tokyo Olympics,
which were staged in the midst of Japan’s high economic growth period, have
often, albeit mistakenly, been referred to as an example of the positive effects of
mega-events, even by economists (e.g. Harada, 2001: 307). In 1964, the public
display of national achievements and virtues helped Japan to return to the international
stage and to mark itself as a modern technology nation. In the public
imagination, the 1964 Olympics acquired a meaningful position marking the
nation’s progress towards the top of the industrialized world. Four decades later,
Japan no longer necessarily needed it, but Korea took the World Cup as an opportunity
to rebrand itself as an advanced (post-)modern society and economy. The
1988 Seoul Olympics showcased South Korea’s newly industrialized economy
and the end of military dictatorship. Yet for many years, ‘South Korea remained
better known for its dog-eating customs than for its world-beating broadband
network . . . despite having Asia’s third-largest economy and one of the world’s
best educated and most technology-savvy populations’ (The Financial Times 21
May 2002). Having learnt from the Summer Olympics of 1988 that sports megaevents
provide a major opportunity for attracting worldwide attention to the
country’s products and services, Korean Deputy Prime Minister Jin Nyum told
journalists before the competition started that the World Cup was about ‘the
brand-making of Korea’, rather than making money directly (Newsweek 17 June
2002). Hence Korea found in the 2002 World Cup the perfect vehicle for
hastening recovery from the recession of 1997 and the subsequent economic
restructuring imposed by the International Monetary Fund.
Due to the mediated nature of the event, and the PR campaign as well, media
technology and subscriptions to related services were the main commodities to
benefit from the 2002 World Cup in the domestic markets of Japan and Korea. In
Japan, sales of JVC digital satellite TV sets jumped by 70 percent as the World
Cup began, while the shipment value of TVs and videocassette recorders
increased 100 percent and 80 percent, respectively. Fuji Xerox, having passed out
World Cup tickets to sales personnel who produced strong sales figures, doubled
sales of its high-end colour copiers year on year in April and May. Subscriptions
to J. Phone, Vodaphone’s representative in Japan, and SkyPerfecTV! all
increased considerably just prior to the kick off (NW 3 June 2002). Yet some
190,000 new subscribers to its 3 million customers stock in 2002 could still not
save the pay-TV company from operational losses of JPY 19.4 billion over the
period April to June (NKS 21 August 2002). The sixfold increase in annual losses
was chiefly caused by the broadcaster’s massive investment in acquiring the
Japanese broadcasting rights for all World Cup finals games, arguably for the
highest price ever paid for a single sport event.
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Korean media technology corporations also capitalized on using the event as
a marketing vehicle. Samsung, the only Korean firm in the world’s top 100 companies,
spent some 100 million (US) dollars on a global advertising campaign to
promote its mobile phones, computers and DVD players. Official World Cup
Sponsor Korean Telecom estimated that its brand recognition improved by 95
percent. A massive public relations campaign was started to promote the new
Korean image that was presented to the world in the World Cup opening ceremony.
Viewed by an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide, the multimedia
show blended traditional Korean culture with cutting edge technology. Visitors
from abroad were entertained by the displays of the functionality, variety and
design of futuristic high-end gadgets, high speed internet technologies, wireless
LAN and third generation mobile communications devices. While Japan could
confirm its name value as an advanced technological society, Korea managed to
draw level with Japan, threatening to overtake in the future (Wieczorek, 2002:
444).
A Japanese consumer survey identified both SkyPerfecTV! and the beverage
producer Kirin Group as the brands most closely related with the World Cup
(Jp.Aol.Com, 2002). Kirin Beer, official sponsor of the Japanese national team,
rolled out a special low-malt brew in cans with messages from the Japanese
national team written on them. The World Cup beer met especially high demand
and sales exceeded the initial forecast by 400 percent. Soon after the World Cup
the Kirin Group renewed its sponsoring contract with the national team for JPY
6 billion. Other winners in the domestic World Cup market place included the
producers of official world cup merchandise and the sellers of unlicensed replica
shirts. Nike opted for its traditional guerrilla-style advertising approach — linking
its name to a variety of events surrounding the tournament, but not to the
World Cup itself (Spitaler and Wieselberg, 2002: 190). FIFA’s long-time official
partner Adidas meanwhile sponsored an additional 10 out of the 32 teams in the
finals at a cost of US$ 35 million. Yet Adidas (Germany) was finally defeated by
Nike (Brazil) in the replay of what is becoming a traditional football kit ‘sign
war’. Adidas Japan sold more than a million footballs and 600,000 Japan national
team shirts — ‘authentic jerseys’ selling for 13,000 yen and ‘replica’ ones selling
for 9900 yen. In Korea, and in ‘Korean’ districts of Japanese cities, the alternative
T-shirt of the national team — carrying the slogan ‘Be the reds’ — easily outsold
the national shirt manufactured by Nike. The apparel manufacturer was criticized
for its pricing policy trying to get most out of Korean consumer nationalism.
The highly visible, passionate and apparently tightly organized support for
the South Korean team as it made its way to the semi-finals by the self-styled
‘Red Devils’ national supporters group created many of the most keenly scrutinized
and unforgettable moments of the 2002 finals. As one journalist noted, Mao
Zedong himself may never have seen anything like the sea of red that engulfed
South Korea — even during the Cultural Revolution (AT 25 June 2002). Dae Han
Min Guk (Great Country of the Korean People) or Oh pilseung Korea (Oh,
victorious Korea), chanted repeatedly by millions of the ‘Korligans’ for minutes
and seemingly hours at a time, left medical services over-stretched trying to treat
ear, nose and throat injuries sustained as a result (Brodkin, 2002).
The Korean ‘consumer nationalism’4 did not spring up spontaneously over
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night, however, but was meticulously prepared months ahead of the World Cup.
While the Japanese media had once more set about the task of teaching their
nation the rules of the game, the Korean media had instructed their nation how to
cheer for national success. Oh, pilseung Korea is an adapted version of a football
cheer sung by K-League team Bucheon SK supporters. With new lyrics befitting
the national team, it made its World Cup debut during the qualification rounds in
1997. The tune, complete with the choreography of heaving the upper part of the
body in unison during the chorus, gained public recognition in Korea through
television commercials featuring the popular movie actor Han Seok-Kyu with
hundreds of Red Devils supporters in the background. The immensely popular
advertisements instructed the audience ‘How to sing Oh, pilseung Korea’ or
‘How to clap Dae-han-min-guk properly’ (Seo, 2002: 32–3). There was no doubt
that official Korea strived towards cashing in on this nationalist enthusiasm.
President Kim, who linked the victory over Spain as the greatest day in Korean
history since the god-king Dangun, the legendary founder of the Korean nation
5000 years before (AT 25 June 2002), awarded a one-off national holiday to the
Korean people after the finals. World Cup monuments have continued to stay on
display and new textbooks published for use at all school levels feature texts and
images of the World Cup and the Red Devils (KH 26 June 2002).
While the Korean public administration was in full support of the national
verve, local authorities in Japan showed a more appeasing attitude as if embarrassed
at the prospect of any over-zealous displays of patriotism. Although
demand was skyrocketing, public viewing in Japan was limited to selected and
secluded areas. Massive squads of riot police, who had been dispatched to cope
with foreign hooligans, showed some signs of irritation in dealing instead with
the young Japanese who acted out the transnational rituals of victorious football
fans: pouring into the streets, ignoring (and sometimes climbing on top of)
traffic signals, waving flags, fraternizing with complete unknowns, and chanting
‘Nippon! Nippon! Nippon!’ all through the night. Jumping into the Dotonbori
River from Ebisubashi in central Osaka was derived from the rather recent tradition
of baseball fans who had started to celebrate the local baseball team Hanshin
Tigers’ (rare) title crowns in a similar fashion two decades previously. Without
the direct involvement of the state, whose representatives later praised the young
generation’s patriotic sentiments, football had become a symbolic battleground
for a ‘new Japan’, in which some of the old arguments about the singing of the
national anthem — especially for its connection with militaristic nationalism —
were being challenged. It was, in fact, only in August 1999 that the Japanese
government, still facing fierce opposition, passed legislation that formally designated
kimigayo as the national anthem and the hinomaru as the national flag of
Japan. In contrast to the highly disputed usage of these symbols at schools,
public ceremonies and domestic sport events, singing the kimigayo in the stadia
and waving the hinomaru in the midst of thousands of excited fans, all dressed in
the blue national team jerseys, was considered a safe form of expressive nationalism.
Particularly for young adults and teens, Japan’s most important segments
of football supporters, the World Cup provided a rare opportunity to overcome
the diffidence many people had felt about overt displays of nationalism and
expressions of national identity since 1945.
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In Korea, where more than 50 million watched the semi-final, as well as in
Japan, internationals involving the national team usually attract much higher TV
audience rates than league games. In Japan, international football games achieved
some of the highest audience rates in the history of broadcasting. All four of
Japan’s matches during the World Cup finals, including daytime broadcasts,
recorded average ratings between 42.6 and 66.1 percent (Japan’s 1–0 victory over
Russia), the second highest for any sports event ever topped only by the legendary
women’s volleyball final at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics between Japan and the
Soviet Union (66.8%). At the 2002 finals, public awareness also embraced the
performance of the co-host’s selection on the pitch. When Japan dropped out of
the finals, the national media redirected public support towards Korea, the only
team from Asia left in the tournament. Matches of the Korean squad were closely
followed by mass television audiences, recording rates of up to 48.3 percent for
the semi-final. While the media played a crucial role in hyping the ‘Asian football
identity’, the willingness to take sides with the Korean underdog fighting
the football powerhouses was another illustration of the apparent plasticity of
Japanese loyalties. Japanese men and women face-painted and dressed themselves
in support of virtually all of the teams competing in Japan, but especially
Japan, Brazil and England — as if fan identity could be acquired by the purchase
of the correct shirt. Notwithstanding different kinds of agency and purposefulness,
both state patriotism and ‘fashion nationalism’ in Japan and Korea support
Roche’s observation that mega-events provide distinctive cultural resources for
resisting systematic threats to personal identity generated by the social order of
late modernity (Roche, 2000: 225).
The 2002 World Cup and the Global Cultural Economy
The shifting global economy of the 1990s has exerted a lasting impact on the
market value of professional football everywhere. Although the pioneering
entrepreneurs of sports marketing always considered football as a core commodity
of international sales strategies (Manzenreiter and Horne, 2002: 10), football’s
central event, the World Cup, has long remained in the shadows of the Olympic
Games. Now, due to its ever-refined attractiveness to the commercial trinity of
sponsors, advertisers, and television, football has demonstrated itself to be the
ultimate global commodity, a dominant paradigm of global popular culture, and
a portal to the world’s most distant regions. Under the neo-liberal influences of
global capital accumulation and transnational marketing strategies, football, more
than any other single sport, has become inextricably linked to agents, structures
and processes of global capitalism. Not even at the 1994 World Cup Finals in the
USA had hosting the event been so openly associated with business prospects and
even closely related to its macroeconomic impact.
Due to the de- (or re-)regulation of national media systems and pay-TV
entering the stage in the 1990s, the global reach of the ‘people’s game’ and the
scarcity value of its core event, broadcasting rights and corporate sponsorship
climbed into unprecedented heights. For the 2002 World Cup, FIFA granted the
worldwide broadcasting rights to a private sport-marketing group for a guaran-
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teed minimum of US$ 800 million, approximately a tenfold increase on what the
international consortium of public service broadcasters had paid for the previous
tournament. In addition, 15 of the world’s leading companies, including 12 multinationals,
paid an average of US$ 35 million to join the ‘FIFA partnership
program’ of sponsors of World Cup 2002. The chance to brand themselves as
global players was particularly appealing for companies with head offices in the
host region. Six out of the 15, including Toshiba, Fuji Xerox, Hyundai and a joint
project of the regional telecommunications giants NTT and KT Hyundai, seemingly
fulfilled their national duty, with the remaining JVC and Fuji Film (in line
with Coca Cola and Gillette) having been FIFA’s Official Partners since corporate
sponsorship entered world football two decades previously. While FIFA is
likely to profit greatly, even though the global football business bubble imploded
just prior to the finals, it is a different question whether the World Cup is also a
lucrative enterprise for corporate sponsors and media companies, or the local
organizers and the economies of the venue cities.5
While great expectations were placed on the psychological effects of the
World Cup spurring consumer sentiments, states and provinces regarded the
World Cup as a huge opportunity to market themselves to billions of potential
investors and tourists. Enhancing the name value of the region was also a major
incentive for localities hosting either World Cup games or training camps. Part of
the aim of hosting the World Cup was to attempt to reroute global tourist flows
and establish new parts of Japan and Korea as tourist destinations. The message
was also inward-bound: although the host nation Japan was very aware of the
global attention, the Japanese host and camp cities set out to redefine Japan’s
regions through professional football largely for a domestic audience.
Roche (2000: 199) argues that live events act as ‘social spatio-temporal
“hubs” and “switches” . . . that channel, mix and re-route global flows’. They act
as moments of global condensation involving the localization of global events
within specific places. Mundane places, towns and cities, become the sites of
unique events for global tourists (Roche, 2000: 224). However, despite earlier
predictions expecting more than a million visitors to the World Cup host countries,
the anticipated tourist (and thus financial) flows were over-optimistic.
While 482,000 foreign visitors entered Japan between 31 May and 30 June 2002,
this marked an increase of only 30,000 people over the same period for the
previous year. For Korea, where World Cup spectator turnout was lower by an
average of 5500 per match, the Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism reported
463,000 visitors — the same number as the previous year (NW 8 July 2002:
4). Distance, time, costs and publicity about measures taken prior to the World
Cup — in particular regarding the policing of hooliganism — may have
dampened the enthusiasm of all but the most committed fans. For neighbouring
Chinese fans, visa restrictions also hampered the road to the World Cup, particularly
to notoriously xenophobic Japan that exempted only the people of two Asian
states from visa requirements (compared with visa-free entrance to Korea for 22
countries from the same region; Kawabuchi, 2001: 35). Clearly the rerouting of
global tourist flows requires more than just an attractive sporting event.
Concerning the impact of globalization on sports mega-events, the World
Cup provided ample opportunities to witness the de-nationalization of playing
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styles and the creolization of fan cultures, even though some media ignored this
trend and continued to exploit cultural stereotypes (Arimoto, 2003). Regarding
the global engagement of transnational corporations serving as a primary source
of revenue for FIFA, the move to hand the finals to the football periphery was
clearly not just driven by the humanist desire ‘to bring the game to the people of
the world’. The decision in favour of Germany — and against South Africa — to
host the 2006 world championship provides some confirmation of the continuance
of a ‘deeply embedded Eurocentrism within FIFA’s corridors of power’
(Darby, 2002). We believe that the choice of Japan (and co-hosting with Korea)
was clearly propelled by the prospect of getting a foothold in the underdeveloped
Asian market (see also Sugden and Tomlinson, 2003). Thanks to such market
penetration strategies, globalization provides customers in Japan and Korea with
all the icons, brand names and products of the global cultural (football) economy.
Yet the reasons why consumers are attracted by similar products worldwide are
manifold, surpassing any simple appeal of the game.
Recent research into football in East Asia, for example, has provided novel
insights into its relationship to new ideals of masculinity, attitudes to full-time
paid work, attitudes towards place of residence and expressions of national identity.
The 2002 World Cup stimulated several new developments, for example,
stage-managed display and enactments of national identity or various initiatives
in civil society capturing the spirit of voluntary activity (Takahashi, forthcoming;
Yamashita and Saka, 2002). Alongside officially sponsored volunteer groups,
non-governmental organizations flourished particularly in venue cities and training
sites. Organizations such as ‘Alliance 2002’ in Niigata were set up without
government involvement to coordinate voluntary activities in the host city. Even
after the World Cup, the ‘Spirit of Niigata’ continues to exert influence on the
leisure-time activities, lifestyle and citizenship of a great many in the region. Like
the Korean Red Devils, these organizations relied upon new information technology
in order to recruit new members and disseminate their messages
(Takahashi, 2001). These cybercultural practices are distinctively new, with technological
innovation offering room for a greater degree of cultural pluralism in
Japan as well as in Korea. But research into the organizational structure of the
volunteer groups suggests that their actions might only signal a slight alteration
of a dominant principle of cultural exclusion. Alternative readings imply that new
kinds of social groups with a higher degree of permeability revived traditional
cultural values to enact resistance against globalization at the grass-roots level.
Similarly, the actions of both co-hosts provide examples of two East Asian nation
states attempting to manage globalization through control of their respective
global cultural images.
Conclusions
Reconfiguring the 2002 World Cup as a mega-event, we showed, first, the
borderless vitality of the mega-event strategy in both national and regional development
politics, and second, how the World Cup has been put to specific usages
by elites for addressing either local or global audiences. Depending on the kind
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of audiences, elites in Japan and Korea employed discourses on the World Cup
as either a metaphor for political relations, social change, regional development,
economic growth, football promotion, a new sport culture or a potential launch
pad for a political career. When asked how he felt the tournament would best be
remembered a Japanese friend told us: ‘The Japanese like festivals. Koreans like
Korea. Some people like football.’ Mega-events such as the Football World Cup
Finals provide multiple meanings for different groups of agents — as they
happen, when they have taken place and, perhaps especially, as they are being bid
for. Hence we know that advocates of hosting mega-events will deploy a range
of discursive strategies to win over public opinion. Since the late 1970s (and the
Montreal Olympics, which the residents of Montreal have only recently stopped
paying for in local taxes) a major concern in considerations of sports mega-events
has been the gap between the forecast and actual impacts on economy, society
and culture. That there is likely to be such a gap is now fairly predictable. Prohosting
advocates tend to gather and project optimistic estimates, anti-hosting
groups articulate concerns.
Sports venues and mega-events such as the World Cup can be utilized by
dominant forces in society to convey particular worldviews of the present and
memories of the past, rather than the actually existing plurality of inconsistent
and contested meanings. Some social and cultural meanings are more evident and
persistent than others because of imbalances in the power of definition. Korean
and Japanese narratives were far from being identical, even though the same
event was addressed, as both countries followed their own aims. Japan appeared
to be satisfied with becoming a recognized part of the world ‘football family’, as
FIFA refers to itself and thus subjugated itself to the imagery envisioned by FIFA
itself. As no host so far had been eliminated in the first round, advancing to the
second therefore was a matter of national importance. Hosting the World Cup as
a rite de passage also involved bringing football to regions where previously no
professional sports had existed. Sapporo, Niigata and Oita are three prominent
examples of football’s new significance for community life in the domestic
peripheries.
In contrast to the coming-of-age ceremony for Japan’s football, Korea sought
to celebrate its coming-of-age as a mature society, particular in comparison to its
closest neighbours Japan and China. This functionalist attitude is consistent with
the ‘overdetermined significance’ (Moorhouse, 1991: 201) that football has had
in Korean society for most of the 20th century. In relations between dominating
and dominated nations, sport, and culture more generally, gains great symbolic
potency for the ‘submerged nations’. For Korea, football always enjoyed a
special position as a sport at which they could regularly defeat the Japanese, and
thus sustain some national prestige (Lee, 2002). Occasional defeats by Japan
were even reported to impact on productivity and workers’ susceptibility to
manufacturing errors (Kim, 2001: 39). The KFA bid to host the first Asian World
Cup Finals on their own soil, rather than in Japan, also was a direct result of
Korea’s defeat by Japan in a World Cup qualifying match in 1993. Bilateral
struggles over the official name order, ticket price policies, visa issuing, currency
exchange and stadia construction in parts resembled competitive hosting rather
than cooperative hosting.
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The issue of peaceful collaboration between a former colonial power and its
colony underpinned much of the 2002 co-hosting ideology. Without enhancement
of bilateral relations the complex tournament logistics, involving travel and
communication between two countries separated by sea, could not have been
mastered so successfully. In the end, clearly improved relationships between the
co-hosting nations, either on the practical working level of bureaucracies or on
the conceptual level of mutual perception, laid the foundations for the smooth and
congenial procedure of the event. Instead of scandals and high-quality football, it
was the colourful, cheerful, and at times breathtaking, atmosphere in the stadia
and streets that impressed the watching world and gave the event its distinctive
character as the ‘World Cup of Smiles’ — as it was later dubbed by FIFA president
Blatter and others in bluntly orientalist fashion (FIFA, 2002: 4). In this
regard, the final communiqué of the local organizing committees and football
federations reflected deep satisfaction, even thankfulness, towards FIFA. Even
Chung Mong-Joon, chairman of the Korean Organizing Committee, FIFA vicepresident
and aspiring candidate in the presidential election race following the
World Cup, finally abandoned his instinctive retaliations against Japan (cf.
Chung, 2001, 2002) and expressed his deep gratitude ‘that the 2002 FIFA World
Cup has helped to bring the people of these two countries closer together’ (FIFA,
2002: 8). Chung’s political ambitions were thwarted later in the year, but the
wider diplomatic impact of the World Cup may turn out to be its most pervasive
heritage, in East Asia at least. Flows of tourism and other inter-cultural exchanges
between the two countries, including TV series, pop music, fashion, cuisine and
language learning, continued and thus outlived the football exaltation.
Research into the 2002 World Cup finals reveals the close relationship
between mega-events and the globalization process: they are simultaneously
driven by globalization, and promote globalization. Economic interests (among
others) drive and promote the mega-event, as their activities drive and promote
globalization. The cultural significance and signifiers of the mega-event, including
sport heroes and their role as pop-cultural devices, the fashion-language of the
apparel industry, and the multinational production of the event (both on-stage and
off-stage) are carriers, channels and transmitters of the globalization process.
Technological progress enables the whole world to participate via the media,
while a small but important minority actually takes part in the event. The
accumulated TV audience of 40 billion was the largest ever created by a single
event, and a total of 2,705,197 spectators attended the 64 matches, although
admittedly average attendances of 42,269 per match proved to be the lowest since
the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Further exploration of the dominant role of the
global industries of finance and media as ‘sport partners’, and by extension the
gendered order of world football, which we do not have space to discuss in this
paper but consider elsewhere, will help to render this argument more precisely.
The Korean team’s unexpected success demanded an explanation that the
popular imagination found in the particular leadership of the Dutch head coach,
Guus Hiddink. The business world, politicians and the media revered him for the
way he got rid of the notorious ‘three yon’: hyolyon, chyon and hakyon, meaning
the ‘family’, ‘local and regional’ and ‘school’ social connections. These well
established essentials for upward mobility that usually permeate Korean society
200 INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT 39(2)
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were replaced by openness, fair competition, a focus on fundamentals, a clear
vision and steady implementation. References to the ‘Hiddink Effect’ entered
political speeches, discourses on management styles and business tactics (AT 26
June 2002). Equally in Japan, the ‘footballization’ of Asian society was most
clearly visible in discourses that combined references to the beauty of the game
with broader social and economic developments. Japan’s coach Philippe
Troussier took the maniac atmosphere in the stadium after the draw with Belgium
as an indicator of a ‘New Japan’ (AS 5 June 2002). A Morgan Stanley analyst
ascribed the success of the Japanese Eleven to the international experience some
Japanese players had gained in Europe, as global competitiveness requires playing
at a global level. He also recommended football essentials, i.e. teamwork, a
huge amount of individuality and good judgement as qualities to aspire to for
Japanese companies (Reuters 12 June 2002). The blending of sports and economics,
incited by the corporate class, appears to be inevitable in this era of the
beatification of business.
Notes
1. For the purposes of this paper, ‘Korea’ will refer to the Republic of Korea, commonly known as
‘South Korea’. While most of the focus is on Japan, reference to Korea will be made for comparative
purposes. The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the United
Kingdom Sports Council, the Japan Foundation, the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of
Scotland, the Moray Endowment Foundation and Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, all of which
enabled some of the research upon which this paper is based to be undertaken and communicated.
We would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers whose critical comments
helped us to clarify our argument.
2. Newspapers and journals we refer to frequently are abbreviated as AS (Asahi Shinbun), AT
(Asian Times), KH (Korea Herald), KT (Korea Times), NKS (Nihon Keizai Shinbun) and NW
(Nikkei Weekly). At the time of writing US$ 1 was worth approximately JPY 122, GBP 0.69 and
EUR 1.14.
3. The names of the host countries with the hosting year as well as economic growth rates for preand
post-World Cup years in parentheses are as follows: Switzerland (1954; 4.0 and 5.5%);
Sweden (1958; 1.9 and 4.0%); Chile (1962; 3.2 and 1.8%); England/Great Britain (1966; 1.4 and
3.0%); Mexico (1970; 2.9 and 5.2%); Germany (1974; 9.5 and 4.7%); Argentina (1978; 0 and
5.6%); Spain (1982; -0.6 and 0.5%); Mexico (1986; -2.2 and 0.6%); Italy (1990; 2.4 and 0.9%);
United States (1994; 2.4 and 2.3%); and France (1998; 1.9 and 2.9%).
4. For a more detailed discussion of the concept of ‘consumer nationalism’ applied to South Korea
see Nelson (2000).
5. The spectacular bankruptcy of FIFA’s sport marketing partner in 2001 created losses of at least
US$ 30 million, with some estimates as much as ten times this amount (AS 16 May 2002).
Despite the scandal FIFA president Sepp Blatter gained re-election in the summer of 2002 (see
Sugden and Tomlinson, 2003).
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